1997 album New Forms proves once again it is a timeless classic in 2017
While there are many albums that could be considered genre-defining or timeless classics, there are very few that impacted their respective music scene in the fashion that New Forms did for drum ‘n’ bass. Serving as the debut album for the drum ‘n’ bass act Roni Size and Reprazent, New Forms was, and arguably still is, a major staple in the genre, and it changed the way people viewed drum ‘n’ bass music due to its mainstream success. Earlier this year it was announced that there would be a reissuing of the album that would include remixes and previously unreleased tracks.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the reissue of Roni Size and Reprazent’s 1997 album New Forms. It would mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the original album, which was a huge hit in the UK and abroad even winning the 1997 Mercury Prize. It also sold over 300,000 copies in the UK. New Forms is considered by many fans of drum ‘n’ bass to be a stand-out album that truly put the genre in the larger conversation of mainstream music in the UK. It was a progressive album that pushed the bounds and traditional conventions of electronic music while still remaining accessible and enjoyable to both the general public and hardcore fans.
Now that the album has been reissued the question remains as to how the greatness of New Forms in the late ’90s translate to 2017. The answer is that it translates very well. One aspect of the album that makes it stand out is the plethora of influences and sounds that can be heard on it. Throughout the album listeners get a taste of influences from genres such as hip-hop, jazz and soul. On the tracks “Hi-Potent” and “Brown Paper Bag” for instance, acoustic guitar samples are used alongside the other more traditional electronic elements, something that is typically not seen in drum ‘n’ bass music.
It’s not just the wide variety of influences on the album that makes this album so great, it is also the fresh progressive sound that makes this album fun to listen to over and over. The album was clearly way ahead of its time back in the ’90s and even today pushes the bounds of Drum n Bass music. A lot of the production on the album features thick rhythmic bass lines especially on tracks such as “Trust Me” and “Digital – 2008 Remix.”
The project is clearly one of the more forward thinking album even now and this shows immensely in the musicianship and production. There are numerous vocal samples that add to the enchanting music as well as beautiful synths and pads. The track “Hot Stuff” features a more otherworldly ethereal sound along with a sick percussion arrangement, and the track “New Forms – 2008 Remix” features a grittier hip-hop feel that is combined with the drum ‘n’ bass aspects of the track.
The best thing about this album is it’s seemingly timeless enjoyment. The collection includes four discs a significant portion of it is remixes, but it never gets boring or feels redundant when listening. The project manages to maintain a level of freshness that simply does not get old, and it is clear why the original project became a genre defining classic. Not only is this project a gem for those who are unfamiliar with the album, it is sure to please fans of the original 1997 project as well.